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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 00:31 GMT
Lone parents face more interviews
Two mothers pushing wheelchairs
Previously single parents only had two mandatory job interviews a year
Unemployed single parents will now have to take part in quarterly job interviews or face 20% of their benefits being stopped.

The government said the plan is to help lone parents in England and Wales with children under 14 get back to work.

Up until now job interviews have been held only twice a year.

Employment minister Margaret Hodge said giving lone parents "the opportunity to talk through all their problems in work focused interviews is very effective".

'Circumstances change'

If they do not turn up to interview, they face a 20% reduction in the payment of their 56 of their income benefits.

Ms Hodge said: "People's circumstances change over time and it is important that we continue to see them on a regular basis to tell them about improvements in the package of help that is on offer."

The government has said there are now a record number of single parents in work. It said over 56% of single parents were now working, an increase of 11% since Labour's 1997 election win.

Last year the government said tax credits designed to help lone mothers return to work have had a "dramatic impact" on employment levels, according to an academic study.

The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) rewards people who take low-paid or part-time work with extra cash.

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